Alternatives to detention


Country Report: Alternatives to detention Last updated: 26/05/22



The Law on Protection sets out the following alternatives to detention for asylum seekers:

  1. An obligation to report;
  2. Bail options (zabezpieczenie pieniężne);
  3. The obligation to stay in a designated place.

SG can use more than one alternative in the case of any foreigner.[1] Alternatives can be applied by the SG which apprehended the asylum seeker concerned or by the court (subsequent to a SG’s decision not to apply alternatives and who have submitted a motion for detention to the court).[2] An asylum seeker can be detained only if the alternatives to detention cannot be applied.[3] In practice asylum seekers are placed in detention automatically, and alternatives to detention are not considered, properly justified and explained.[4] In 2021, Borger Guards/courts issued alternatives to detention to 96 asylum seekers and to 737 foreigners.[5]

Over the period 2017-2021 alternatives to detention were used as follows for foreigners, including asylum seekers and returnees:[6]

Alternatives to detention in Poland: 2017-2021
Type of alternative 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Reporting obligations 2,094 1,327 1,603 507 818
Residence in a designated place 1,818 1,058 1,522 476 233
Bail 4 1 3 1 3
Surrendering travel documents 49 29 36 39 343
Total 3,965 2,415 3,164 1,023 1,397

Source: Border Guard: 14 January 2018; Border Guard, 14 and 25 January 2019, 17 January 2020, 5 February 2021, Instytut Nauk Prawnych, 2 February/ Border Guard March 2022.


In the NGOs’ assessment, courts examine the possibility of using alternatives to detention in a superficial way. Courts held very often that it is not possible to impose an alternative to detention on the basis of the risk of absconding and that asylum seekers had no money or no place to stay, ignoring the fact that asylum seekers have a right to live and receive a financial assistance in open centres for foreigners managed by the Head of the Office for Foreigners.[7]




[1] Article 88(3) of the Law on Protection.

[2] Articles 88(2) and 88b(2)-(3) Law on Protection.

[3] Article 88a(1) Law on Protection.

[4] Information provided by Legal Intervention Association Rule of Law Institute and Nomada Association, February 2021,

[5] Information provided by Border Guards Headquarters to HFHR, March 2022.

[6] In practice, a person may be subject to more than one alternative measure.

[7]  Commissioner for Child’s Rights, 6 March 2018, available (in Polish) at:, information provided by HFHR in February 2022.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation